War for talent amid shortage of skilled labour to define Scotland’s financial sector in 2023

A war for talent amid an “unprecedented” shortage of skilled labour will define Scotland’s financial sector in 2023, a key report has predicted.

Now in its eighth year, Core-Asset Consulting’s Industry Trends and Salary Guide is a forensic review of salary levels, as well as being a gauge of market sentiment, activity and the themes impacting the sector north of the Border. The latest study suggests that the balance of power sits with employees despite the current economic woes.

Due to be published in late January, the report by the Edinburgh-based recruitment specialist also underlines that the decreased reliance on face-to-face work means that firms in Scotland must compete with London and other financial hubs for available talent. Firms offering roles north of the Border are said to have been left struggling to fill vacancies, which have risen 23 per cent over 2022 compared to the previous year, while the number of applicants is down by 19 per cent. According to the report, the time taken to fill a vacancy has also telescoped, with many firms forced to review and hike initial salary levels, forcing “difficult conversations internally” with existing staff on similar pay brackets.

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Betsy Williamson, founder and chief executive of Core-Asset Consulting, said: “Winning the race for talent requires a deep understanding of what employees’ value. Flexible working is now the norm for many and organisations must reposition and reinvent themselves to compete effectively. Ultimately, businesses must be prepared to market themselves to candidates just as they would to potential customers- as candidates know their value and they know that many skills face a supply shortfall.”

A straw poll of 43 recent candidates revealed that 39.5 per cent would not entertain a role that offered no flexible working, while 79 per cent would be willing to travel to London two days per week in return for flexibility, over a role necessitating five days in the office.

The guide sets the stall for salary reviews in Scotland’s financial services sector which usually happen in March and April. Uniquely, all of the data is entirely Scottish and the report sets expectations for those who are awarding salaries, allowing them to benchmark against competitor organisations. The report also gauges market sentiment and activity, as well as highlighting the themes that are impacting financial services across Scotland. Major issues this year include staff shortages, ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance), Brexit and ethical investing.

Core-Asset Consulting, which was formed in 2005, was born out of Williamson’s desire to take the best of her experience of large corporate recruiters, applying the focus on infrastructure and training to a more sector-specialised business. Based in the capital, the firm employs 23 people and works across the entire financial services sector, from the smallest boutiques to the largest global players.

The firm’s latest guide states that the causes of labour market deficiencies are layered, however it notes that the reduction in available labour is interconnected with the UK’s exit from the European Union and the subsequent exodus of overseas nationals during the pandemic.



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